Looks like some Senate Democrats can read the writing on the wall, even if their progressive activists cannot. Over the past few days, they’re getting a lot less enthusiastic about court-packing, to the point of avoiding the topic altogether as voters repeatedly tell pollsters they’re not interested in changing the number of Supreme Court justices. National Review’s John McCormack got a firm no from one of Arizona’s senators to the idea.
No, the other Arizona senator:
“Well, I haven’t seen the legislation,” Kelly replied. When I pointed out it’s simply a bill to increase the number of justices on the Supreme Court, Kelly said: “I generally don’t think that’s a great idea. I mean, I think we ought to get back to, you know, working together. The Supreme Court has been, for a while now, nine justices, and so I would certainly have to look at it, but I’m not in favor of that.”
Asked if he could categorically rule out supporting Court-packing in the future under different circumstances, Kelly replied: “Well, I’m generally not in favor of it.”
Kelly’s response that he “generally” opposes Court-packing fell short of a pledge he’d never vote to do it. But on Wednesday afternoon, Senator Kelly’s spokesman Jacob Peters contacted me to argue that Kelly’s comments did amount to a firm commitment to always oppose Court-packing. Asked if Kelly would vote against increasing the number of Supreme Court justices under any circumstances, even if Roe v. Wade were overturned, the senator’s spokesman said “yes.”
On Tuesday, a few other Senate Democrats sounded very reluctant to discuss the proposal, let alone support it, when McCormack first started asking:
“I’m not persuaded yet, but, you know, we’ll just have to see,” said Senator Tim Kaine (D., Va.). His fellow Virginian, Senator Mark Warner, said the Court-packing bill is “not where I’m headed.”
Senator Jon Ossoff (D., Ga.) said of Markey’s bill: “It’s not something I’m currently advocating for.”
“It’s not my issue for today,” said Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
“I’ll take a look at it, but it’s not something that I’ve been pushing for,” said Senator Gary Peters (D., Mich.) …
“I don’t support that,” New Hampshire senator Jeanne Shaheen said of Markey’s bill. Asked if any Supreme Court rulings could get her to support it, Shaheen replied: “I can’t speculate on that.”
Why so shy? Polling shows that Americans don’t want an attack on the institution of the judiciary, not even after months of campaigning on that idea. Yesterday’s Morning Consult should have been a sobering slap across the face to anyone buying this plan from Ed Markey and Jerrold Nadler, even for those who were already distancing themselves from it earlier in the week. The poll showed nearly 2:1 opposition to the plan among those who had any opinion at all, and that opposition actually increased among Democrats over the last six months. The only demo in the entire poll with majority support for court-packing are those who rate Joe Biden’s job approval as strongly positive.
In a purple state like Arizona, court-packing is the kiss of death. Arizonans elected Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema as a reaction to Trump, not as a massive shift toward progressivism. Radical proposals like the Markey/Nadler bill will create a reaction in purple states, which not coincidentally covers most of the demurrers McCormack contacted. This idea is dead on arrival in the Senate, and likely won’t even get that far with Pelosi controlling the House floor.